Ben Aaronovich – Rivers of London Series

Rivers of London Series

The Rivers of London is a series of books based on the life and career of one Peter Grant, a police constable who is thrown into the world of Newtonian magic. He becomes an apprentice to the magic practitioner, Nightingale, after being caught up in a magical case.

This is a great series for anyone who enjoys a good mystery, comic timing, magic, fantasy, sci-fi, police procedural novels, London and it’s history and architecture. It basically has all the bases covered, and if you listen to the unabridged audiobooks then you also get the brilliantly vast and extensive talents of Kobna Holbrook-Smith as he seamlessly rattles off the many and varied accents which Ben Aaronovitch has given his characters.

One of the things which makes this such a great series is the fact that the story is not limited to the main novels of the series. Ben has also worked with a talented team to produce comics, graphic novels, and audiobooks which support the main storyline by expanding out the worldview of the Rivers of London series, fleshing out the characters, introducing new characters and providing explanations for character traits and back history.

Ben Aaronovitch is a British screenwriter and novelist. He has written for such programs as Dr. Who, Casualty, Blakes 7.

Dr Who comic

Get it from Forbidden Planet 
or Amazon via the links below.

See below for information on each novel, graphic novel, comic and audiobook as well as information regarding who Ben Aaronovitch has worked on. I have also made a brief bio for some of the main re-occurring characters, this is not conclusive and should not give away any major spoilers for the series.

This page will be updated as my reviews of each book are published and as Ben Aaronovitch publishes more work. Watch this space!

Book 1 – Rivers of London

Published: 10th January 2011

Set in: January to June 2012

Rivers of London Ben AaronovichMy name is Peter Grant and until January I was just probationary constable in that mighty army for justice known to all right-thinking people as the Metropolitan Police Service (and as the Filth to everybody else). My only concerns in life were how to avoid a transfer to the Case Progression Unit – we do paperwork so real coppers don’t have to – and finding a way to climb into the panties of the outrageously perky WPC Leslie May. Then one night, in pursuance of a murder inquiry, I tried to take a witness statement from someone who was dead but disturbingly voluble, and that brought me to the attention of Inspector Nightingale, the last wizard in England.

Short Story – A Home Crowd Advantage

Published: In London Edition of Rivers of London and Official Website

Set in: Before 2012 Summer Olympics

Book 2 – Moon Over Soho

Published: 21st April 2011

Set in: September to October 2012

Moon Over Soho I was my dad’s vinyl-wallah: I changed his records while he lounged around drinking tea, and that’s how I know my Argo from my Tempo. And it’s why, when Dr. Walid called me to the morgue to listen to a corpse, I recognised the tune it was playing. Something violently supernatural had happened to the victim, strong enough to leave its imprint like a wax cylinder recording. Cyrus Wilkinson, part-time jazz saxophonist, and full-time accountant had apparently dropped dead of a heart attack just after finishing a gig in a Soho jazz club. He wasn’t the first.

Book 3 – Whispers Under Ground

Published: 21st June 2012

Set in: December 2012

Whispers Underground front coverPeter Grant is learning magic fast. And it’s just as well – he’s already had run-ins with the deadly supernatural children of the Thames and a terrifying killer in Soho. Progression in the Police Force is less easy. Especially when you work in a department of two. A department that doesn’t even officially exist. A department that if you did describe it to most people would get you laughed at. And then there’s his love life. The last person he fell for ended up seriously dead. It wasn’t his fault, but still.

Now, something horrible is happening in the labyrinth of tunnels that make up the tube system that honeycombs the ancient foundations of London. And delays on the Northern line is the very least of it. Time to call in the Met’s Economic and Specialist Crime Unit 9, aka ‘The Folly’. Time to call in PC Peter Grant, Britain’s Last Wizard.

Book 4 – Broken Homes

Published: 25th July 2013

Set in: March/April 2013

Broken Homes front coverA mutilated body in Crawley. Another killer on the loose. The prime suspect is one Robert Weil – an associate of the twisted magician known as the Faceless Man? Or just a common garden serial killer?

Before PC Peter Grant can get his head round the case, a town planner going under a tube train and a stolen grimoire are adding to his case-load.

So far so London.

But then Peter gets word of something very odd happening in Elephant and Castle, on an housing estate designed by a nutter, built by charlatans and inhabited by the truly desperate.

Is there a connection?

And if there is, why oh why did it have to be South of the River?

Full of warmth, sly humour and a rich cornucopia of things you never knew about London, Aaronovitch’s series has swiftly added Grant’s magical London to Rebus’ Edinburgh and Morse’s Oxford as a destination of choice for those who love their crime with something a little extra.

Graphic Novel 1 – Body Work

Published: July to November 2015, Collected 1st November 2016

Set in: Unknown

Co-Author: Andrew Cartmel

Artists: Lee Sullivan

Body Work front coverPeter Grant looks look your average London police officer, but he is actually a part-time wizard in a very elite branch of the Metropolitan Police. It’s his job to investigate those crimes that regular cops don’t like to talk about because they often involve vampires or strange things in Underground tunnels. Peter’s latest case features a self-driving killer automobile, a Serbian refugee, the Most Haunted Car in England, a handsome drug dealer with a nice paisley scarf and a seemingly harmless wooden bench with a dark past! Collecting the sell-out smash mini-series, Rivers of London: Body Work!

Book 5 – Foxglove Summer

Published: 13th November 2014

Set in: August 2013

Foxglove Summer front coverIn the fifth of his bestselling series, Ben Aaronovitch takes Peter Grant out of whatever comfort zone he might have found and takes him out of London – to a small village in Herefordshire where the local police are reluctant to admit that there might be a supernatural element to the disappearance of some local children. But while you can take the London copper out of London you can’t take the London out of the copper.

Graphic Novel 2 – Night Witch

Published: Parts 1-3 – 16 March 2016 through 18 May 2016, collected 1 November 2016

Set in: August 2013

Co-Author: Andrew Cartmel

Artists: Lee Sullivan

 

Night Witch front coverPress-ganged into helping a Russian oligarch hunt his missing daughter, PC Peter Grant and his boss, Thomas Nightingale, London’s only wizarding cops, find themselves caught up in a battle between Russian gunmen, a monstrous forest creature – and their nemesis: The Faceless Man. But as Grant and Nightingale close in on the missing girl, they discover that nothing about this case is what it seems! Signed copy available from Forbidden Planet

Graphic Novel 3 – Black Mould

Published: Parts 1-5 – 12 October 2016 through 8 March 2017, collected 25 July 2017

Set in: August 2013

Co-Author: Andrew Cartmel

Artists: Lee Sullivan

Black mould by Ben AaronovichCSI meets Harry Potter in this fantastic new graphic novel from Ben Aaronovitch, writer of the bestselling Rivers of London novel series! Something dark and slimy is dripping through the walls of suburban London. Not the usual stuff, this mould is possessed by some dark power full of bad intentions. Looks like it’s another case for London’s one and only trainee wizard cop, Police Constable Peter Grant, and his reluctant partner, Sahra Guleed!

Signed copy available from Forbidden Planet

Novella 1 – The Furthest Station

Published: 28th September 2017

Set in: Late July 2013

Furthest Station by Ben AaronovitchThere’s something going bump on the Metropolitan line and Sergeant Jaget Kumar knows exactly who to call.

It’s PC Peter Grant’s speciality . . .

Only it’s more than going ‘bump’. Traumatised travellers have been reporting strange encounters on their morning commute, with strangely dressed people trying to deliver an urgent message. Stranger still, despite calling the police themselves, within a few minutes the commuters have already forgotten the encounter – making the follow-up interviews rather difficult.

So with a little help from Abigail and Toby the ghost hunting dog, Peter and Jaget are heading out on a ghost hunting expedition.

Because finding the ghost and deciphering their urgent message might just be a matter of life and death.

Audible Exclusive 1

A Rare Book Of Cunning Device

Published: Audible special edition

Set in: Undisclosed month in 2014

Read by: Kobna Holbrook-Smith

Audiobook A Rare Book of Cunning DevicesExclusive to Audio! Somewhere amongst the shadowy stacks and the many basements of the British library, something is very much amiss – and we’re not talking late returns here. Is it a ghost, or something much worse? PC Peter Grant really isn’t looking forward to finding out….

Book 6 – The Hanging Tree

Published: 3 November 2016 in the UK,31 January 2017 in the US

Set in: Undisclosed month in 2014

The Hanging treeSuspicious deaths are not usually the concern of PC Peter Grant or the Folly, even when they happen at an exclusive party in one of the most expensive apartment blocks in London. But Lady Ty’s daughter was there, and Peter owes Lady Ty a favour.

Plunged into the alien world of the super-rich, where the basements are bigger than the house and dangerous, arcane items are bought and sold on the open market, a sensible young copper would keep his head down and his nose clean. But this is Peter Grant we’re talking about.

Graphic Novel 4 – Detective Stories

Published: Parts 1-4 7 June 2017 through 3 September 2017, collected 29 December 2017

Set in: Undisclosed month in 2014

Co-Author: Andrew Cartmel

Artists: Lee Sullivan

Detective Stories by Ben AaronovitchCSI meets Harry Potter in this fantastic new graphic novel from Ben Aaronovitch, writer of the bestselling Rivers of London supernatural police procedural crime novel series! An anthology series of stories featuring Police Constable Peter Grant, his partner, Sahra Guleed, and their associates, as they tackle supernatural crime on the streets of London! An all-new adventure for Ben Aaronvitch’s laconic, way-past-cool but slightly geeky trainee wizard and budding detective, Peter Grant! Tying directly into the Rivers of London continuity. Aaronovitch is joined by Doctor Who writer Andrew Cartmel for this gripping new series.

Signed copy available from Forbidden Planet

Graphic Novel 5  – Cry Wolf

Published: 8 November 2017, collected 26 June 2018

Set in: Undisclosed month in 2014

Co-Author: Andrew Cartmel

Artists: Lee Sullivan

Cry Wolf forbidden planet image

 

Vengeful Russian mobsters are looking to hire members of London’s own more-then-natural underworld to bring bloody retribution down on the witch Varvara.

However, the ex-Soviet sorcerer is under the protective wing of London’s own wizarding cop, Peter Grant (now a proper detective and everything), and to get the attention of Grant and his colleagues, the daughter of a prominent Russian oligarch is kidnapped by parties unknown but possibly fox-like.

What makes it worse is that Peter is going to have to leave his beloved London and gasp go out into the countryside! And when there’s trees and fields and wildlife involved, things never end well.

Signed copy available from Forbidden Planet

 

Graphic Novel 6 – Water Weed

Published: Parts 1-4, June 2018 through September 2018, collected 18 December 2018

Set in: Undisclosed month in 2014

Co-Author: Andrew Cartmel

Artists: Lee Sullivan

Water Weed by Ben AaronovitchWhen two of the less well-behaved River goddesses, Chelsea and Olympia, decide to earn a few quid on the side, Peter and Bev find themselves drawn into a sordid cannabis-smuggling operation, controlled by London’s new queenpin of crime – the brutal and beautiful Hoodette!

Signed copy available from Forbidden Planet

 

. .

Book 7 – Lies Sleeping

Published: 18 November 2018 in the UK

Set in: After 14th November 2014

Lies Sleeping by Ben AaronovitchMartin Chorley, aka the Faceless Man, wanted for multiple counts of murder, fraud and crimes against humanity, has been unmasked and is on the run.

Peter Grant, Detective Constable and apprentice wizard, now plays a key role in an unprecedented joint operation to bring Chorley to justice.

But even as the unwieldy might of the Metropolitan Police bears down on its foe, Peter uncovers clues that Chorley, far from being finished, is executing the final stages of a long term plan.

Graphic Novel 7 – Action At A Distance

Due for release 26th March 2019

Set: Outside of the main sequence

Co-Author: Andrew Cartmel

Artists: Lee Sullivan

Action at a Distance by Ben AaronovitchOctober, 1957. A serial killer terrorising the women of Cumbria has moved to the streets of London, with Constable Angus Strallen hot on his heels.

But this murderer has special abilities, and Strallen soon realises he needs the help of an old friend from the front lines who can match this madman’s power, London’s own wizarding police officer, Thomas Nightingale. As the pair move in closer, it quickly becomes clear that murder is not this man’s only intent.

Tying directly into the continuity of the Rivers of London novels and revealing secrets about Nightingale’s past that readers have long-hoped to find out!

Pre-order from Forbidden Planet

Novella 2 – The October Man

Published: 13th June 2019

Set in: Germany – undisclosed time sometime after Lies Sleeping ends

Featuring: Tobias Winter and Vanessa Sommer

The October Man by Ben AaronovitchTrier is famous for wine, Romans and for being Germany’s oldest city. So when a man is found dead with, his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth.

Fortunately, this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything.

Enter Investigator Tobias Winter, whose aim is to get in, deal with the problem, and get out with the minimum of fuss, personal danger, and paperwork. With the help of a frighteningly enthusiastic local cop, Vanessa Sommer, he’s quick to link the first victim to a group of ordinary middle-aged men – and to realise they may have accidentally reawakened a bloody conflict from a previous century. But the rot is still spreading, literally and with the suspect list extending to people born before Frederick the Great solving the case may mean unearthing the city’s secret magical history.

. . . so long as that history doesn’t kill them first.

Book 8  – False Value

Due out: November 2019 – release pushed back to 20th February 2020

Set in: After the events of Lies sleeping

Peter Grant is facing fatherhood, and an uncertain future, with equal amounts of panic and enthusiasm. Rather than sit around, he takes a job with émigré Silicon Valley tech genius Terrence Skinner’s brand new London start up – the Serious Cybernetics Company.

Drawn into the orbit of Old Street’s famous ‘silicon roundabout’, Peter must learn how to blend in with people who are both civilians and geekier than he is. Compared to his last job, Peter thinks it should be a doddle. But magic is not finished with Mama Grant’s favourite son.

Because Terrence Skinner has a secret hidden in the bowels of the SCC. A technology that stretches back to Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, and forward to the future of artificial intelligence. A secret that is just as magical as it technological – and just as dangerous.

List of books

Novels

Rivers of London

Moon over Soho

Whispers Under Ground

Broken Homes

Foxglove Summer

The Hanging Tree

The Furthest Station (novella)

Lies Sleeping

Graphic novels

Co-Author: Andrew Cartmel

Andrew Cartmel novel Available to buy at Forbidden Planet

 

 

 

 

 

Artists: Lee Sullivan

Lee Sullivan Dr WhoAvailable to buy at Forbidden Planet

 

 

 

 

 

Comic books

Taken from Wikipedia

  • Body Work #1 – 16 July 2015
  • Body Work #2 – 19 August 2015
  • Body Work #3 – 16 September 2015
  • Body Work #4 – 21 October 2015
  • Body Work #5 – 20 November 2015
  • Body Work (Collection/Graphic Novel) – 29 March 2016 ISBN 9781782761877
  • Night Witch #1 – 16 March 2016
  • Night Witch #2 – 13 April 2016
  • Night Witch #3 – 18 May 2016
  • Night Witch (Collection/Graphic Novel) – 1 November 2016 ISBN 9781785852930
  • Black Mould #1 – 12 October 2016
  • Black Mould #2 – 16 November 2016
  • Black Mould #3 – 21 December 2016
  • Black Mould #4 – 1 February 2017
  • Black Mould #5 – 8 March 2017
  • Black Mould (Collection/Graphic Novel) – 25 July 2017 ISBN 9781785855108
  • Detective Stories #1 – 7 June 2017
  • Detective Stories #2 – 12 July 2017
  • Detective Stories #3 – 9 August 2017
  • Detective Stories #4 – 13 September 2017
  • Detective Stories (Collection/Graphic Novel) – 29 December 2017 ISBN 9781785861710

Audiobooks

All available on Audible

A Book of Rare and Cunning Device – Exclusive to audio

Read by: Kobna Holbrook-Smith

All Read by: Kobna Holbrook-Smith

Rivers of London

Unabridged version shortlisted for Crimefest Award 2012

Moon over Soho

Whispers Under Ground

Broken Homes

Foxglove Summer

The Hanging Tree

The Furthest Station(novella)

Lies Sleeping

Main Characters

Fan art by The Agarthian Guide
Image Copyright held by The Agarthian Guide

The Agarthan Guide artwork on Tumblr

Police Constable Peter Grant

Officer in the Metropolitan Police

Job: The first official apprentice wizard in sixty years.

Lives: at The Folly

Age: 25 at the start of series

First appears: The Rivers of London (is the main character in all books)

Traits: knows a lot of “useless” knowledge about architecture, extrovert, very easily distracted, can sense vestigia, makes rash decisions, huge fan of Dr. Who and Lord of the Rings

Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale

Job: Head of the Folly and the last officially sanctioned English Wizard

Lives: at the Folly

Age: Technically over 100, but looks early 40’s

First appears: The Rivers of London (is a main character in all books)

Traits: always well dressed in tailored suits, drives a vintage Jaguar, highly skilled practitioner, a survivor of Ettesberg

Lesley May

Job: Police Constable in the Metropolitan Police and de facto apprentice to Nightingale

Lives: Various

Age: 25 at the start of series

First appears: The Rivers of London (appears in all main novels in the series)

Traits: Incredibly good at her job, quick reflexes, expected to go far in the police, good looking, favourite of Seawold

Toby; Peter’s dog

Job: detects magic, indicated by barking

Lives: The Folly

Age: No one knows

First appears: Rivers of London

Traits: Loves Molly’s cooking, terrible guard dog, sniffs out magic, what more do you want?  He’s a dog

Detective Sergeant Miriam Stephanopoulos

Job: case officer of the Belgravia Murder Investigation Team

Lives: In the country

Age: Never ask a woman her age!

First appears: Rivers of London

Traits: scares everyone, huge fan of Terry Pratchett

Detective Chief Inspector Alexander Seawoll

Job: The SIO (Senior Investigation Officer) of the MIT (Murder Investigation Team)

Lives:

Age: No one dares ask

First appears: Rivers of London

Traits: not a huge fan of Peter, doesn’t like all “this weird-bollocks”, a very large man, is protective over his favourites

Sahra Guleed

Job: Constable, often works with Peter when his cases are in London.

Lives: London

Age: Unknown

First appears: Moon Over Soho

Traits: has an endless supply of fashionable hijabs (one for every outfit and every occasion), the new favourite of Seawold

Dr Abdul Haqq Walid

Job: world-renowned gastroenterologist and cryptopathologist (deals with the weird shit that comes into the hospital/morgue)

Lives: London (is actually Scottish)

Age: Unknown

First appears: Rivers of London

Traits: super inquisitive, backs up Peter is his search for a scientific explanation for some of the “weird-shit”

Frank Caffrey

Job: London Fire Brigade Fire Investigator, ex-para, Unofficial enforcer and general all-round muscle for the Folly.

Lives: London??

First appears: Rivers of London

Traits: plain-speaking, doesn’t take any shit, not phased by all the weird-shit

Professor Harold Postmartin D.Phil. FRS BMon

Job: Archivist and expert for the Folly. Academic.

Age:

Lives: Oxford

First appears: Moon Over Soho

Traits: cares for and fights for the preservation of books and other antiquities beyond that of anything else

Molly

Job: The Folly’s domestic helper

Age: Unknown

Lives: The Folly

First appears: Rivers of London

Traits: of not entirely clarified species fae-like, can move around soundlessly, cooking (good or bad depends on her mood and which recipe book she is currently working on

Abigail Kamara

Job: School kid, later on, she becomes the de facto founding member of the Folly’s Youth Wing.

Age: 13 when we first meet her

Lives: at the same estate as Peter’s parents.

First appears: Moon Over Soho

Traits: smart, nosey, can apparently talk to animals, good with languages

Beverley Brook

Job: goddess of Beverley Brook 

Age: Undetermined, it is suggested mid-twenties

Lives: in early books with her mum, Mama Thames in ?, later on in her own flat near Beverley Brook

Traits: hot, great hair, goddess of a river, has power over water

Cecilia Tyburn Thames; aka Lady Ty

Job: goddess of the River Tyburn. Also sits on the board of several companies, charities and non-profits

Age: depends on her mood, mid-forties if we are talking natural

Lives: ??

Traits: daughter of Mama Thames, very posh, has a strong power over both water and people

Oxley

Job: god of the River Oxley one of the “sons” of Father Thames and his chief negotiator.

Age: Unknown

Lives: On the River Oxley

Traits: likes to swim, takes a shine to Peter, married to Isis, loves the theatre and a good drink, good strong Irish accent

Varvara Sidorovna Tamonina (aka. Varenka Dobroslova)

Job: Russian/Soviet witch (Night Witch), magical WWII veteran (365th Special Regiment of the Red Army)

Age: Technically over 100, but looks early 40’s

Lives: London mainly, various locations unknown

Traits: Witch, Russian, age is not an issue, good fighter both physically and magically

My Little Eye – Stephanie Marland

My Little Eye is a very unique take on the classic murder mystery. A story told technically from two different points of view but with the added bonus of an online true crime group adding their perspective.

It is the story told by Dominic the Detective working for the police department, and Clementine, the PHD student who joins an amateur online detective group and attempts to solve a series of murders carried out by ‘The Lover’, a sadistic serial killer who poses his victims after he murders them.

Blurb

A rocket-paced, dark thriller for fans of Mark Billingham, Sharon Bolton and Luther. Can a group of true crime addicts take on the police to catch a serial killer?

Kiss the Girls – A young woman is found dead in her bedroom surrounded by rose petals- the latest victim of ‘The Lover’. Struggling under the weight of an internal investigation, DI Dominic Bell is no close to discovering the identity of the killer and time is running out.

And make them die – As the murders escalate, Clementine Starke joins an online true crime group determined to take justice in their own hands – to catch the killer before the police. hiding a dark secret, she takes greater risks to find new evidence and infiltrate the group.

As Starke and Bell get closer to cracking the case, neither of them realise they are being watched. the killer is close to them than they think, and he has his next victim – Clementine – firmly in his sights.

Thoughts about the blurb

Personally, I think that this blurb gives too much away. In my opinion, and it is just an opinion, a blurb should give you a set up for the story and perhaps a few tantalising nuggets of information to encourage you to read past the first chapter, which in most books would be introducing characters and setting the scene.

Often, if I am struggling to get into a book after the first chapter, I’ll skip a few pages to read on, if I then feel I’ve missed anything, I’ll double back to catch up.

NONE of this was necessary for My Little Eye.

The book itself

The book begins with a prologue. Written in the voice of one of ‘The Lovers’ victims, this is essentially a prologue to the kill. It sets the tension level really well and leaves you wanting much much more.

Monday – the first chapter is Clementine and it begins as so:

“They say I was dead for three thousand and six seconds. They say that when I woke up I was different, but I don’t know if that’s true.”

Already I was hooked.

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Chapter 1 is just over a page long, chapter two is just over two pages long. We continue in this pattern until the introduction of the online crime group and divert back to this pattern when small titbits of information need to be added to the story.

One thing that Stephanie Marland is very good at in her books, is pacing. She knows just when to speed things up with a short chapter to introduce more evidence and just when to include more characters with more viewpoints and thought-provoking clues.

My Little Eye is a great book. It follows a very familiar path of serial killers and police investigations, but where it differs from your average crime thriller or police procedural is with the introduction of this online true crime group and their lines of investigation. Often ahead of the police, they pool their expertise, knowledge and on some occasions the fact that they are not tied by rules and procedures, to solve the case.

Do they solve the case before the police? That would be telling.

Stephanie Marland

I have been a fan of Stephanie Marland for a few years now. All be it, under her pseudonym of Stephanie Broadribb, or more accurately as her blogging name ‘Crime Thriller Girl’.

Taken from the introduction on her website:

Crime Thriller Girl (aka Steph Broadribb aka Stephanie Marland) leads a double life …

I started out as a corporate suit by day and a crime fiction blogger – Crime Thriller Girl (hence the name of my blog) by night. Now I’m a thriller writer, writing as Steph Broadribb and Stephanie Marland. I’m an avid reader of all things crime thriller and I love to connect with people who share the same passion for books.

I first discovered her whilst looking for bloggers who wrote about one of my favourite areas, crime fiction. She is one of the best. But not only does she write about crime and is friends with some of the biggest crime writers in the industry, she also writes crime. When I discovered that she wrote as Stephanie Broadribb, I downloaded Deep Down Dead and began to read.

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Blurb for Deep Down Dead

“Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows …”

The Lori Anderson series is set in Florida and at first, I found it hard to reconcile a UK crime writer who sets their work in the USA. Why I found this so hard, I’m not really sure, I love Lee Child’s work and all of his work is set in the USA, in the US military in fact, and he was born in Coventry UK.

Once I got past the first few chapters though, I was hooked. The Lori Anderson series is fast-paced action from the get-go. Information is introduced into the story in much the same way that a grenade is introduced into a room.

This speed makes it ideal reading for commuting. When you get off that train, even if you have only travelled a mere couple of stations, you feel as though you have read one hell of a lot of the story.

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to attend an event at a local literary festival in which Stephanie Marland/Broadribb and her fellow author, Isabel Ashdown did a talk on ‘How to get published’. It was one of those talks which was designed to encourage you, the writer, to progress your work and your career in the right way, not just to dither around unsure where to go for help. What I took away , however, was just how much I wanted to read Stephanie’s new book ‘My Little Eye’.

Both authors read a passage from their newest books and I decided then and there to purchase both. Luckily there was a table manned by the local independent book shop, Barnards Books there selling copies and I was lucky enough to get them both signed.

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I am actually quite ashamed that it has taken me this long to get around to reading and in fact finishing this book. The pace meant that I should have managed it within a week of the talk. Once I did pick it up and begin to read properly, it really did only take me a week.

It is a great story, gruesome in parts, but not unnecessarily so. I love the characters, especially Clementine, who Stephanie herself admits to rewriting in full on the second draft. The use of the online crime group to add intrigue and another dimension which really adds depth to the story. The lead characters, as well as the supporting characters, are fully developed and most have their own back story which gives reason and justification for their actions.

**** Potential spoiler ahead ***

Continue reading My Little Eye – Stephanie Marland

Into The Water – Paula Hawkins

The Author

Paula Hawkins is most famously known for her debut novel ‘The Girl on the Train’, which is not only a bestselling novel but now a very successful film starring Emily Blunt.

I loved this book, I also quite enjoyed the film. There was something not quite right about the main character and everything that happened to her. You willed her to be more than she appeared. You felt sorry for her, but at the same time, you could definitely see yourself making the same mistakes. Rachel is a flawed individual, an alcoholic, at times a horrible person, but someone who you are rooting for. Hawkins manages to make her all of those things within the first couple of chapters and untangles her twisted tale throughout the rest of the book. It truly was a page-turner.

The Book

I have on occasion been known to use the cliched saying “This book was a joy to read”, I cannot, however, say that about this book. It is well written and the story is intriguing, but it is harrowing and I’d compare it to the feeling you get when watching a true life crime programme.  You know the feeling when you question how humanity can be so cruel and evil? That is how I feel about this book.

The way I talk about this book is the way I hear people talking about ’13 Reasons Why’, it is at times painful to read and it reminds you of the horrendous acts which people can inflict upon each other.

 

However, Hawkin’s way of storytelling is really keeping me hooked, I really do want to know what happens.

Who killed Nel? Did she jump? Was she pushed? Who or what is this mysterious power who rids the town of ‘troublesome women’?

Synopsis

‘I need you to call me back. It’s important’

Just days before her sister plunged to her death, Jules ignored her call.

Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules must return to her sister’s house to care for her daughter, and to face the mystery of Nel’s death.

But Jules is afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of this small town that is drowining in secrecy…

And of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.

Relationships

The book focusses on the relationships between several central characters. It is perhaps the relationship between Jules and her sister Nel which makes me most uncomfortable, but this is, in fact, a positive reflection of Hawkin’s writing.

The realism of the relationships in her writing makes me question my own sibling relationship and wonder if I, the older sister are seen in such a negative light as Jules clearly see’s Nel. This relationship is tragic really, the sisters could have helped each other through so much, instead, they were at each other’s throats.

I have an almost morbid fascination with stories which focus on dysfunctional family relationships, I think that they make me feel better about my own. It can be cathartic, whilst also being incredibly uncomfortable, to relate to these characters so deeply.

Another main theme appears to be the relationship between parent and child. Each character’s relationship with either their parent or child is explored and the flaws in these relationships laid bare. Be it the distrust which Josh Whittaker has for his mother, the painful shared loss which prevents Sean from interacting properly with his father or perhaps Nel’s dysfunctional relationship with her daughter Lena.

At the heart of this book is not the river, as first believed, but the interactions and often disastrous encounters which the characters have with one another. the love and the hatred felt by each of them is visceral

Mystery and intrigue

The mystery surrounding ‘The Drowning Pool’ is what pulls the story on, but it is the character relationships which make up the bulk of the narrative, these interactions make up the daily lives of the characters whose lives seem rather mundane and normal on the surface. Once you look below the ordinary exterior of the people in Beckford you discover the dark secrets and turmoil hiding just below the surface

Setting

Into the Water is set in a small town called Beckford. It is supposedly about an hour’s drive from Craster and Howick. In spite of Hawkins very clear description of the town, it’s geography and it’s layout, it does not actually exist.

In researching this town, I have discovered a website called ‘The Book Trail‘ which discusses the locations discussed in various books. It is basically a blog which focusses on the settings of books. There is even a section in which authors will discuss their works in relation to the settings.

“As much fun travelling via fiction is, sometimes all you need is to sit back and take the time to enjoy a drink, a piece of cake and chat with the people on the journey with you”

Overall opinion

Although this book is not the most upbeat book I’ve read recently, it was certainly one which kept me hooked and wanting to know more every time I had to put it down. The twists and turns were not predictable and although you felt like some of the character’s actions were vindicated, I still felt myself questioning their motives or arguing with them in my head.

This is a very well written book and a story that keeps you hooked from beginning to end. Well worth a read, but only if you are in the right emotional state.

The Word is Murder – Anthony Horowitz

Book and Skull

Anthony Horowitz

I found this book on offer at my local supermarket. Having never read an Alex Rider novel, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the idea of Horowitz moving from Young Adult stories into Adult stories intrigued me.

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When I picked up the book, I was unaware of Horowitz’s other career achievements in TV and film.

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To me he had always been a YA author.

Story device

This book struck me as a bit strange and unusual within ten pages. Anthony Horowitz has broken the fourth wall of writing. This in itself is not unusual. It has been done in many novels over the years. What is unusual is that he had made himself a character. And the information he provides about himself is pretty accurate. It makes me wonder how much of the rest of the story is based on real people and real events. 

Lemony Snicket, of course, used this method in his ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, so it is not a new device, I think I was just a little surprised to see it used in such a way. This is, after all, a murder mystery. It is not as if he is using his voice as a character, he himself is the character, with a real life and a real family and his achievements are real and accurate, his career is real, even his script for Tintin being scrapped is real (although, who knows if it went down the way the describes in the book).

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As I read through the book, I realised that there is a lot of factual information about who Horowitz has worked with and what he has worked on. So much so that at times I feel his main characters in the murder mystery are in fact real people. Although, after a few more paragraphs, you realise that he has likely taken the trajectory of one actor’s career, an actor he has worked quite closely with over the years, and lent it to his character. Changing perhaps only the spelling of his name and his, of course, his surname. In a way, this use of real people reminds me of ‘Being John Malkovich’ or James Van Der Beak’s character in ‘The B**** in apartment 23′.

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Thoughts and opinions

Having now finished the book, I am more and more inclined to believe that this murder actually happened. Both Hawthorne and Anthony are of course real people, the places they visit are most certainly real, and it leads me to believe that many of the events are also. I am still unsure if Horowitz would have been allowed to play as big a part as he leads us to believe, but when you break the fourth wall, you’ve got to be at the heart of the action. 

The title of the novel appears on page 25, during a conversation between Horowitz and Hawthorne, he then also makes reference to this at the end of the book. I found this running commentary to the story to be very useful but at times a little off-putting. It is a good story, told well, but I think I found it hard to get over the main device.

Horowitz’s career

The other main character, Hawthorne, reminded me, in a lot of ways, of Sherlock Holmes. Which makes total sense as in 2011, Horowitz released ‘The House of Silk’ the first Sherlock Holmes novel written as a new story with the estates blessing. However, I believe that he is also a real person, but whether he’s as insightful or reserved as his character in the book, is anyone’s guess.

The house of silk

You can purchase The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz from Forbidden Planet.

 

 

 

 

 

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The more I read about Horowitz and his career both on and off the screen, the more I realise that he was an ideal choice for such an endeavour.

He has since written a second Sherlock Holmes novel, Moriarty and in 2014, the Ian Flemming estate commissioned him to write ‘Trigger Mortis’, a new James Bond novel. His Alex Rider novels, of course, made him an obvious choice for this franchise as they are often referred to as ‘Teenage James Bond’.

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His second James Bond novel “Forever and a Day” has just been released in hardback.

“007 is back. After authentically recreating the golden age of James Bond in his high-speed thriller, Trigger Mortis, Anthony Horowitz is back in Ian Fleming‘s shoes once more.  In Forever and a Day he brings readers an official prequel to Casino Royale, telling the story of the origins of the world’s most famous secret agent.” – Waterstones

The Word is Murder

The story itself is a pretty good one, a murder mystery at heart and one which compels you to read on and learn more. Not just about the murder but about  Horowitz, (or Anthony, as he likes to be called) and Hawthorne themselves. 

“A wealthy woman strangled six hours after she’s arranged her own funeral.  A very private detective uncovering secrets but hiding his own. A reluctant author drawn into a story he can’t control. What do they have in common?

Unexpected death, an unsolved mystery and a trail of bloody clues lie at the heart of Anthony Horowitz’s page-turning new thriller.

Spread the word, The Word is Murder!” (sic) – Waterstones

I have to admit, even if this novel weren’t written by a world-famous author like Horowitz, I’d have picked it up, the blurb alone is intriguing. Although, it now gives me pause on the idea of pre-arranged funerals. The story actually turns out to be quite emotional with plot twists galore, most of which I, the reader, did not see coming.

I also found the writing to be easy to follow and fast paced, perhaps this is down to his career in young adult fiction. I did actually find myself steaming through the pages of this book. A great read to take away on holiday or on a long train/plane journey. Reading this book was actually quite pleasurable if at times a little off-putting when Horowitz himself interjects his thoughts and feelings. Definitely worth a read though.

Black Widow – Chris Brookmyre

Black Widow – 7th Jack Parlabane novel

By Chris Brookmyre

I picked up Black Widow a few months ago. It looked like my kind of book; crime thriller, critically acclaimed, award-winning (Don’t worry, I’m not always swayed by that aspect, it just helps to narrow down when waiting in a train station or looking for something to read on holiday when I don’t want to take a risk on an unknown quantity of quality). And half price to boot (loss-leading marketing by such stores as Waterstones and W H Smith, really does work on me when it comes to books, my reading habit is expensive so any discount I can get is truly a winner for me).

I had heard of Chris Brookmyre before I picked up the book, but to my surprise, I’d never actually read anything he’d written.
It’s been sat in my bookcase for months now, even moving with me, and yet still I’d not picked it up to read. Last weekend I was looking for a paperback to read in the bath, my most consumptive reading occurs in the bath, it’s time I feel as though I can completely relax and do what I want, immerse myself in the story with no interruptions. Reading in the bath is the ultimate me time.
On the off chance, I picked up Black Widow. I’m not sure why I’d been putting it off for so long. I am really glad I picked it up that day though.

Chapters and writing

This book is brilliant! It took me a chapter or two to get into it, but the chapter length meant that this was a mere few minutes and the writing style appealed to me instantly. The chapters are reasonably short, although not Patterson short, ranging from 3-10 pages in length, and they jump around between different characters, allowing you to experience the story through their eyes and their words.

The chapter length I find was perfect for getting you gripped and keeping you entertained throughout the whole book. You don’t tend to find your mind wandering half way through a chunky chapter, wishing that you could go back to the Jack or the Jager perspective of the story, instead, when you get to the end of each chapter you are keen to keep reading regarding of whose story arc is next.

I also found this length to be conducive to me being able to read at work and on the train, I rarely found I had to stop reading halfway through a chapter thus interrupting my flow, unlike with some books. This was the main factor in me getting through the book so fast.

Instead of numbers, the chapters are all named, giving you an idea of what you will experience or learn in this chapter. If I midway through a session, I wouldn’t necessarily read the chapter titles before reading the chapters themselves, but I found them to be very useful upon my return to the book after a few hours. You can flip back and remind yourself of the previous chapters contents without having to re-read.

Story and characters

Chris Brookmyre is great at giving you a full view of the characters thoughts and feelings without giving away anything too revealing to the plot. He keeps you on your toes whilst also explaining enough of what is going on that you are never lost in the storyline. His use of non-linear storyline is very naturalistic, and being that Black Widow is his 21st novel, he has had plenty of practice at getting this type of narrative right, and he does, in fact, manage it well.

“There is no perfect Marriage. There is no perfect Murder.”

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This is the kind of novel which turns your beliefs about each character upside down with each new piece of information that you learn. One minute you are rooting for the Jager to be found guilty and the next you are questioning what you would do if you were in her shoes. Is Jack truly the ‘catch’ he first appeared? Putting this book down was difficult at times, Chris really does know how to keep you interested, each chapter holds a new twist to be dissected and analysed.

I’m not going to give anything away, but I can tell you that I experienced a strong sense of satisfaction at the outcome of this story. I felt vindicated in my feelings towards characters whose moral compasses had been ambiguous from the start. I also found that Black Widow made me reflect upon my own relationships and how they had formed and panned out over the years.

There is a healthy dose of suspicious and anxiety injected into the narrative of this story. Chris certainly does know a lot about the human psyche. For anyone who has read and enjoyed ‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins, you will know exactly what I mean by this.

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Blurb

And now for a bit more about the story…

Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for he life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing.

Then she meets Peter. He’s kind, generous and knows nothing about her past: the second chance she’s been waiting for. Within six months, they are married. Within six more, Peter is dead in a road accident, a nightmare end to their fairytale romance.

But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairytales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media are calling Black Widow.

[Taken from the book Jacket]

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I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a thrilling read. I have lent this book to at least two other people who have both massively enjoyed reading it. It is the ideal book for long journeys or if you are looking for a good read for a staycation. The question of whether Jager is truly the Black Widow she is portrayed as or something else entirely will keep you interested throughout.